Wife assaulted stopping husband's suicide

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 06:58 17/01/2013

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An Auckland man who assaulted his wife because she stopped him from committing suicide has been discharged without conviction.

The 55-year-old pleaded guilty to assault and committing a threatening act, in offending which the High Court described as "highly unusual".

In a recently-released ruling, Justice Lester Chisholm said the Chinese-born man was severely depressed at the time of the offending.

His wife hid his car keys from him because she thought he was going to leave the house and commit suicide.

The pair argued, waking their 24-year-old son, and the man grabbed his wife by the shoulders and struck her repeatedly.

He was yelling that "they were going to the car to die together", the judge said.

He tried to drag his wife into his car by the neck but their son intervened and wrestled him to the ground. The son asked his mother to call police but she refused.

Mother and son hid in a bedroom so the man got a knife from the kitchen and plunged it through the closed bedroom door, narrowly missing the son, the judge's ruling said.

He was arrested after leaving the house.

The man pleaded guilty in the district court and asked for a discharge without conviction citing the difficulty he would face in travelling to China to visit family and for his exporting business.

His application was declined with the district court judge saying a discharge would amount to concealing from Chinese authorities the true position.

"The Chinese authorities need to decide whether or not you can get a permit to go to China, not me," the district court judge said.

He ruled that a conviction would not be out of proportion to the offending and his wife could travel to China for him if he was not allowed.

Justice Chisholm has disagreed saying the case needed to be assessed "within the overall context of a man apparently intent on attempting to commit suicide".

He said it was it was significant that the man's wife did not want police involved. She described her husband as "a nice man, a good husband and a good father".

The man was receiving treatment for depression and his wife was confident they could work through any difficulties.

Justice Chisholm said there was evidence the applicant would have trouble entering China if convicted and his wife did not want to have to do all the travelling.

Those facts changed the balancing exercise.

"Mr K, who is aged 55 years and has no previous convictions, was depressed to the extent that he wanted to take his own life," Justice Chisholm said.

"Equally importantly his family are still strongly supportive of him. Once those circumstances are taken into account I am satisfied that the consequences outweigh the seriousness of the offending and that Mr K should have been discharged without conviction."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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